By Joel Hillan

DENVER (CBS4)– The Colorado Department of Corrections says nearly half of all those in the prisons across the state will return to life behind bars once released. One group wants to change that by giving former inmates a leg up.

A workshop hosted by Denver Inner City Parish is designed with that in mind. Organizers hope that by being able to dress the part and talking with potential employers, these men will see that a different future is possible for them.

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Carlos Alonzo Perez is just 22 years old, he has spent most of the last four years in and out of jail, a pattern he hopes to change.

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“I want to make my family proud, more than anything I owe my family that, you know,” Perez said.

To do that he has come to the workshop at the Denver Inner City Parish, where ex-convicts got a fresh haircut. They also talked with felony-friendly employers like LiUNA, a labor union for contractors. They come with a message of hope.

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“You can get great benefits and retire with dignity and you don’t need a college degree to do it,” said Raul Duran with LiUNA.

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The men were also given the opportunity to pick out suits, complete with shirts and ties. They also posed for a professional headshot.

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Perez had never worn a suit before, “Now I’ll go into an interview with a suit and tie on I think I’ll have more confidence and that confidence will reflect on an employer.”

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This is all made possible by Leo Alirez. An ex-con himself, now clean 15 years. He runs Denver Inner City Parish.

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“Healing begins when we stop hoping for a better past, let’s look for the future and let’s go for the future and we have your back 100 percent while getting there,” he said.

Coming together to provide hope for a better future.

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“I’m getting back into society doing it the right way this time,” said Perez.

Denver Inner City Parish is a 501(c)(3).

LINK: Denver Inner City Parish

Joel Hillan anchors CBS4 This Morning on weekends as well as reports stories for CBS4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. Follow Joel on Twitter @joelhillan.

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